Using Social Media Mindfully

Using Social Media Mindfully

Social media is a huge part of most of our lives. It's a great way to stay connected to friends, make new ones, learn about other people's experiences of the world, and educate ourselves. But it can often feel like an uncomfortable and confrontational space to be in. The problem isn't with social media, it's with how we use it.

I'm sure we've all had frustrated thoughts about logging off permanently and deleting our social media accounts. Lots of minimalists do, in fact. Social media is a huge part of both my personal life and business, I rely on it in so many ways; shutting my accounts down isn't an option.

When you spend a significant amount of time online, it's important to set boundaries. We need to set our own rules for how we use social media, how we engage online with others and how we allow others to engage with us; to protect ourselves and our privacy, and also our time. Boundaries are a way we can be intentional with how we use social media and the role it plays in our lives.

Social media is what you make it. If you feel as though your feeds are full of toxic conversations or find yourself making unhealthy comparisons; make use of the tools you've got. Hit unfollow, shut down your DMs, and reduce the time you spend scrolling through your feeds. Adopt a mindful and balanced approach to using it.

I’ve been taking a step back more often lately, to figure out how I can use social media in a more mindful, balanced way. If you have a love-hate relationship with social media, have ever thought about deleting your accounts, and are looking for a way to have a more positive experience online, this post will help you to do just that.

Share With Intention

Knowing why we're on social media, what we're using it for, and what we hope to achieve in doing so is crucial to having positive experiences online. Mindful use of social media means updating and sharing with intention; putting out content that is supportive or informative. There is a temptation with certain social media platforms to share our feelings especially our frustrations but this can have a toxic effect on those that follow us, if we're not careful about how we choose to do that. Being mindful of the attitude we project, the content we share and how we share it is so important to creating enjoyable experiences online.

Social media is often a space where we share ideas with each other, inevitably not everyone will agree. Conversations can quickly get heated and while I don't think anyone should continue conversing with someone who is abusive, I do believe having tough conversations is important.

Before sharing a response, take a few deep breaths. Be aware of how you’re feeling physically and emotionally. The instant nature of social media makes us feel as though we must response immediately, or even at all. Unfortunately replying in the heat of the moment doesn't always mean we get across what we want (or meant) to say in the best possible way we could say it. Stepping back and waiting before giving a response (or choosing not to respond at all) can make all the difference. I find typing out what I want to say, saving it as a draft, and then returning to it later on is hugely beneficial in making sure I get across my point in a levelheaded manner.

Mute, Unfollow, Block

How often do you go through your feeds to check in with the accounts you follow? Unfollowing those that don't inspire or uplift you? Removing those that make you feel unhappy or uncomfortable? I'm certain the majority of us hit follow and then don't check back in for months, maybe even years. I certainly don't do it as often as I should.

When you find yourself negatively affected by the content you see in your feeds, hit unfollow right then and there. If you need a little space and unfollowing feels too personal, muting an account is a good compromise - and don't event think twice about blocking accounts that cause you distress. Make use of these tools that are there to create the space we want to curate online.

I don't follow the same accounts everywhere on social media. I pick and choose who to follow depending on what they share on each platform. One important thing I've learned about using social media is: you don't owe anyone a follow back. If someone's content isn't giving your positive vibes or adding value to your day, you don't owe them any space on your feed.

Unplug and Log Out

It's far too easy to get into the habit of mindlessly browsing whenever we have a few spare moments. It's shamefully the first thing I do whenever I pause to take a break. Even if you don't think you're on social media that often, use an app to track your usage and you might be shocked. When our accounts are permanently signed in, it's all too tempting to pick up our phones and start scrolling.

If you notice it's becoming a problem for you, there are a few ways you can curb overuse. Turning off notifications will prevent distractions while deleting the apps off your phone is a surefire way to break the habit of absent-minded scrolling. You could try only using the social media apps at certain times of the day and logging out after every use so it makes it trickier to procrastinate.

I've had notifications switched off on my phone for years and I couldn't ever imagine switching them back on. But what really helps when I need a break is temporarily deleting social media apps off my phone. It gives me the space I need to step back and start using social media mindfully again.

How do you feel about social media?
Share your tips for using it mindfully in the comments.

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Using Social Media Mindfully